The next week will test your nerves and patience.
The NBA Draft is seven days away. Between now and then, you’ll hear and read more reports of possible trades, players rising and falling, team needs, expiring contracts, and enough rumors to make an editor at Page Six drool.
Fact: No one, with the possible exception of a Phoenix Suns exec, can state with relative certainty what will happen in Barclays Center next Thursday night. The Suns own the No.1 pick and the smart money says they’ll draft Arizona big man Deandre Ayton.
Or Marvin Bagley III. Or Luka Doncic. Or Jaren Jackson Jr.
The Knicks have the No. 9 pick. Thanks to the depth and talent in the top half of this draft, there’s every reason to believe the Knicks will get a starter, if not a star.
Team president Steve Mills, GM Scott Perry and their staff have been doing their due diligence. Small forward Michael Porter Jr. had a workout scheduled for Friday that the Knicks were poised to attend. According to multiple reports, he canceled that workout on Thursday.
ESPN News Story: Michael Porter Jr. cancels second pro day because of strained hip. His draft stock appears to be rising nevertheless as medical info flows out among teams, but question marks persist.https://t.co/9dcSVVMDG5
— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) June 14, 2018
Porter was regarded as the best player coming out of high school, but missed almost all of last season at Missouri after undergoing back surgery. The 6-10 small forward would give the Knicks a potentially breathtaking frontcourt alongside a healthy Kristaps Porzingis.
The rumors of the week had the Knicks looking into the possibility of trading up to take Porter. And former Texas C/PF Mo Bamba slipping to New York at No. 9. Geez, seven more days of speculation.
It’s not likely Porter Jr. will fall to No. 9, but if some teams are scared off by Porter’s injuries, the Knicks could be at the right spot at the right time: As we said nerves and patience are in play this week.
The Knicks are looking at two areas – small forward and point guard. There is a bevy of forwards from which to choose and two intriguing point guards – Oklahoma’s Trae Young and Alabama’s Collin Sexton.
The first order of business is for the Knicks to decide whether Young or Sexton is better than any of the forwards. If so, the Knicks have a player to team with last year’s No.1 pick, Frank Ntilikina.
If not, the Knicks have their choice of forwards, all of whom have been evaluated by the team. Here’s what each prospect said about Knicks and his fit for the franchise:
MIKAL BRIDGES, SF, VILLANOVA – Bridges considers The Garden a second home, having won two Big East Conference Tournament titles in the World’s Most Famous Arena. Having dealt with the Philadelphia media and played in a big market, he won’t have any trouble adapting to the Big Apple.
“The Garden is a special place. I love The Garden. I had my best games at The Garden this year. I played really good at the Big East Tournament. … A lot of great things happened [for me] at The Garden. It’s beautiful. I love it.”
Villanova forward and 2018 NBA Draft hopeful Mikal Bridges talks about how well he would fit in with the Knicks and explains why he loves playing at The Garden.
At 6-7, Mikal Bridges is a terrific defender, a good 3-point shooter, and a high-caliber young man.
“I [fit] really well. The length with Porzingis and Frank [Ntilikina]. Defense, there is length on the ball. I [can] create space for [Porzingis] in iso. They can’t lay off me, so it’s an easy way to the basket.
MILES BRIDGES, SF, MICHIGAN STATE – We find this Bridges to be one of the more intriguing candidates available. At 6-6, he’s the smallest of the small forwards, but his chiseled body and athleticism make him a tantalizing prospect. He’s dropped 20 pounds since the end of the season.
“I can play any position on the floor,’’ Miles said. “I feel I can be versatile and can guard any position on the floor. [Teams] asked me all the time. I say I don’t have a position. I’m willing to play defense at the next level. Wherever the team needs me.”
Bridges grew up in Flint, Mich. He, too, won’t find New York overwhelming.
Michigan State forward Miles Bridges explains what he might be able to bring to the Knicks, how he got better this past season and what his best assets are.
“To me, it’s not intimidating. New York is a great city, a lot of tradition basketball-wise. It’s a great city to play in. In that 7-to-12 [pick] range is all a great fit for me. New York would be a great fit for me, L.A. too.”
WENDELL CARTER JR., PF, DUKE – Carter played in the shadow of Bagley III at Duke. At 6-10, 250 pounds he could be a perfect complement to KP.
Carter is considered an old soul. His willingness to do the dirty work around the rim would be a boon to Porzingis. He has an appreciation for the history of the franchise. Carter spoke to Knicks’ officials at the Chicago combine.
“After meeting with them in Chicago, they seemed like really genuine people, people who cared about me and cared about what I brought to the table,” he said. “And it’s the Knicks.
“Like I said, they have a lot of background, a lot of positive things that have happened in the past and they’re just working on trying to rebuild and be that old Knicks team that was really great.”
Wendell Carter Jr. talks about what it would be like to play with Kristaps Porzingis, getting to meet coach David Fizdale, why he decided to workout with the Knicks and more.
KEVIN KNOX, SF, KENTUCKY – At 6-9, Knox has the perimeter game that would take pressure off Porzingis and swingman Tim Hardaway Jr.
Knox doesn’t turn 19 until mid-August. Many believe that gives him the best upside. Ntilikina turns 20 in late-July. KP turns 23 in early-August. Knox sure would give the Knicks a foundation of young, athletic talent.
“I’m the second-youngest player in the draft this year, but that doesn’t mean anything,’’ Knox told reporters at his workout in Orlando, Fla. “It’s not an excuse. I’m in the NBA and I put my name in the draft for a reason — because I think I’m ready. My age has nothing to do with it.’’
MICHAEL PORTER JR., SF, MISSOURI – Porter spoke with reporters at the Chicago combine, where he initially met Knicks officials. He was supposed to meet with the Knicks in the Windy City on Friday. Will it be a prelude to the Knicks moving up?
University of Missouri forward Michael Porter Jr. talks about his physical health, meeting with the Knicks and what he will bring to the team who drafts him.
“I loved meeting with them, they knew everything about me,’’ Porter said. “It was cool meeting with those guys.”
Porter is the player that could be the focal point of the draft. He was projected in one mock draft as going 4th and 8th in another.
“They had me as the No. 1 player in high school, but I didn’t even feel I was 100 percent,’’ Porter said. “And I do now. So now I’m excited to show everybody the player that I am, that I’m still the best player. I got a little chip on my shoulder.’’
COLLIN SEXTON, PG, ALABAMA – Aka The Young Bull, Sexton wasn’t as highly touted a prospect early in his high school career as Porter, Knox or Miles Bridges. But don’t tell Sexton he’s a late bloomer.
Alabama point guard Collin Sexton says he won't shy away from the bright lights of a big stage in the NBA and talks about why playing at Madison Square Garden is special.
“People define my story as “the kid who went from unranked to five stars” but I’ve always viewed myself as on a certain track to get to this point,’’ Sexton wrote in The Players’ Tribune.
“Basically, I’m pleased with the results but I’m not surprised by them. Because they aren’t an accident. I didn’t average 30 in Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League last year because I suddenly learned how to score. I played well because I go to the gym every night and I don’t leave until I’ve made 300 jump shots.’’
TRAE YOUNG, PG, OKLAHOMA – Meet the lightning rod in the draft. Some see Young as Steph Curry-like player with ridiculous shooting range and GPS court vision.
Others say the 6-2, 176-pound Young, who is smaller than the 6-3, 190-pound Curry, gives away too much height and strength. Talent and confidence are unquestioned.
Trae Young discusses how his private workout with the Knicks went, how he'd fit in with the Knicks, his thoughts on David Fizdale and more.
“My confidence level never varies,” Young said. “I felt like what I did this year on the collegiate level by leading the country in points and assists, I think that shocked a lot of people, but it really didn’t shock me. So just my confidence level is never going to change.
“I want to do something different in this league, even as a rookie. I think my style of play will fit even better here at this level.’’